Tag Archives: historical photographs

From the Center: Ethel ‘Documerica’–Schoenberg Hall April 17, 2015

Unsigned editorial from the performance program notes. 

Thank you for joining us as we welcome ETHEL back to the program. If you’ve experienced this masterful quartet before, you know well just how buoyant and electrifying they are in live performance. This very special multimedia project allowed the members of ETHEL to apply their keen artistic sensibilities to a major photographic undertaking of the people, places and landscapes that comprise this country.

At first blush it might not seem so significant to think that there is a massive collection of images documenting daily life in the U.S. After all, here in 2015, we are confronted daily by, or making our own contributions to, myriad social media applications that allow us to share any and all photographic details of our independent experiences. Most of us walk around holding in our hands the ability to snap a high-quality photograph of anything that moves us– ourselves, our meals, people and sights around us. We can even immediately and sophisticatedly edit, stylize and share that image fairly broadly.

But from 1972-1977, this was decidedly not the case, and therefore the 15,000 images now available to view from the EPA’s Documerica project, if you take pause to consider how nascent the digital world was then, is utterly fascinating. Don’t be surprised if you leave here feeling inspired to peruse the entire archive. (Which you can do at Flickr.com)

Investigating these images and selecting ones that resonated was the driving force behind each composer’s approach to their segment on tonight’s program. Their highly individual and creative responses to the imagery they encountered has resulted in new layers of poignancy and buoyancy around each shot.

Combined with the creative editing and technologies employed in this unique performance project and animated further by ETHEL’s incredible stage presence, it makes for an unforgettable program of sight and sound.

Sit back and enjoy.